The hope of Canada 150 with Okanagan Life publisher Paul Byrne
The sesquicentennial begins with kind, gentle and hopeful facts: that Canada is the most peaceful country on earth; we possess no mass destruction weapons and we have only 198 jails. (One might be the smallest in the world at only 270 sq. ft.)
The Okanagan celebration of Canada’s 150th birthday will commence under the influence and auspices of the most joyful and revered of all elements — water. It is also the most honest. You see, water freezes at 0°C, boils at 100°C and consistently follows the path of least resistance, every time. We celebrate that Canada has more lakes than the rest of the world combined and we posses 20 per cent of all of the world’s fresh water.
But alas, this spring in BC, we had more water than we bargained for, so while the lake water rose daily in Okanagan communities, so too did the anxiety of its citizens. Unfortunately, the human brain tends to fear fear itself far more than it needs to. As we experience an Okanagan Life lesson that for the most part Canadians understand — we might just share this wisdom with the world.
Reach behind your shoulder and give yourself a small pat on the back. Being Canadian, you are part of the best educated population in the world. We are a nation of thinkers and dreamers. Canada has several national parks that are bigger than other countries and the local police have been known to give you a positive ticket if they see you doing something nice.
Canada has the longest street in the world at some 1,896 kilometres. Like Canada, it is Yonge (young.) There is even a part of Canada that has a lower gravitational pull than the rest of the world.
The lowest temperature recorded in Canada was -63°C, but alas, the Okanagan has only reached -50°C. During the summer, the southern Okanagan Valley is, on average, one of the hottest areas in Canada during the day. In 2015, Osoyoos and Kelowna shattered 100-year-old records reaching 40°C in June that year.
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Choose to become a Canadian tourist this year. If you feel like being alone, head to Mono, Ontario, and if you’re on the wagon, Sober Island, Nova Scotia is a great stop. They are still counting the right angles in Punkeydoodles Corners, Ontario, and Spock was last seen being both rational and irrational in Vulcan, Alberta. As a hockey player myself, I’d encourage you to visit the province that exports the most NHL players per capita, Saskatchewan, whether it be Elbow, Eyebrow, Love or Climax. You can visit your Newfoundland friends in Come By Chance, Blow Me Down Park or a local’s favourite town, Dildo. Life expectancy of a pig must be considerably lower in Bacon Ridge, Manitoba, and one would think Ball’s Falls, Ontario, might flow into Ball’s Creek, Nova Scotia. But like most things in this counterintuitive world, it doesn’t.
This year, let’s try to be as honest as the abundant water that is blessing all Canadians. We must update our beliefs every day to make sense of a world where, seemingly, water is running uphill.
Canada stretches across six time zones (6:30 in Newfoundland) and across this vast nation are the luckiest, most optimistic, sensitive, peaceful, energetic, tolerant and courageous citizens of the world. We understand that, while we celebrate our history, we also must strive to correct our mistakes, make restitutions and, through the ultimate power of forgiveness, make a better world.